As shares of Chinese Internet giant Alibaba Group (BABA) gain a whopping 96.6% year-to-date (YTD) versus the S&P 500’s 17.4% increase over the same period, one team of analysts on the Street sees more upside in shares. (See also: Top Internet Manager Says Alibaba Can Still Double.)
Susquehanna’s Shyam Patil and team initiated coverage on BABA with a positive rating, the equivalent of a buy rating, and a $220 price target, reflecting an over 27% upside from Wednesday close. The investment firm highlighted “impressive” Taobao and Tmall retail platforms, along with an “ample runway ahead” for the company’s advertising business.
Just 15% of merchants on Alibaba’s Tmall and Taobao platforms actively use marketing features, wrote Patil, “pointing to the potential for material upside.” The Susquehanna analysts also see the tech giant benefiting from an expansion of its cloud business and the extension of its global reach outside of China.
Best 'Secular Growth' Play
Patil suggested that Alicloud is hitting an inflection point for profitability and could reach margins similar to Amazon.com Inc.’s (AMZN) Amazon Web Services (AWS) within the next few years. “We view Alibaba as the best way to play the secular growth of the internet in China,” he wrote.
Late last month, Alibaba, China’s second-largest company by market capitalization after Tencent Holdings, sold $7 billion in bonds in the biggest offshore dollar-bond issue from Asia this year and the second largest of all time. The retailer says it may use the proceeds to carry out more acquisitions in growth segments such as physical retail and logistics assets. Also in November, BABA announced plans to acquire China’s largest hypermart chain, Sun Art Retail Group, in a deal worth $2.9 billion. (See also: Alibaba Group Sells $7B Worth of Dollar Bonds.)